SHANGHAI – Peter Sagan held off the challenge of reigning Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas in a tense three-way tussle to the line to win the Tour’s Shanghai Criterium on Saturday.
The three-time world champion from Slovakia seared to the finish in a sprint with Welshman Thomas, who was second, with Italy’s Matteo Trentin a narrow third.
The Shanghai race was staged for the second time as part of the Tour de France’s efforts to boost its brand in China, a country once known as the “kingdom of bicycles”.
The race involved 20 laps around a three-kilometre (1.9-mile) street circuit that passed the distinctive China Art Museum.
Under mostly clear skies, Team Sky’s Thomas took the lead with three laps to go, with Sagan and Mitchelton-Scott team’s Trentin at close quarters.
After emerging from the trio in a nail-biting finish, the 28-year-old Sagan, of the Bora-Hansgrohe team, said: “I am very happy for this victory. I tried to save energy and see in the last three or four laps.
“I saw it was a strong group with Thomas and Trentin.
“The first few laps were a bit bad, but then they became better and better after every lap.”
& in the end, the Green Jersey @petosagan wins 💪— Tour de France (@LeTour) November 17, 2018
Relive the last kilometer of #ShanghaiCriterium 🚴♂️🇨🇳
Et à la fin, c’est @petosagan qui gagne !
Revis le dernier kilomètre du #ShanghaiCriterium 🚴♂️🇨🇳 pic.twitter.com/5kaDn1B7bL
The star-studded race attracted a decent-sized crowd in central Shanghai.
Bicycles have long been the workhorse of urban transport for China’s masses, but recreational cycling is on the rise as incomes and leisure pursuits increase.
Veteran Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, the newly crowned world champion, triumphed at the Tour’s Saitama Criterium earlier this month in Japan.AFP